Army ROTC students visit historical sites in France and Belgium

Students complete required battle analysis during once-in-a-lifetime spring break in Europe

| Author: Sarah Buckley | Media Contact: Sarah Buckley

Students and faculty from the Department of Military Science and Leadership and the Department of History, World Languages, and Cultures spent spring break visiting historically significant sites in France and Belgium to learn more about the history and impact of D-Day and World War II.

Cadets were required to research and present information on specific battles/engagements before and during the trip as a graded assignment. They were joined by a staff member from the Zekelman Holocaust Center to provide additional support for the Holocaust focused tours.

A staff ride/battle analysis is a required event for Commissioning Cadets in the United States Army Cadet Command. The trip is funded through donor support and cadet fundraising. Sites visited included Mémorial de Caen, Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, the Normandy American Cemetery, Mont Saint-Michel, and the Bastogne War Museum.

Central Michigan University students hold a CMU flag while posting together at Utah Beach in Normandy, France.
Central Michigan University students hold a CMU flag while visiting Utah Beach in Normandy, France.

Department Chair LTC Ryan Greening says the Staff Ride was a resounding success.

“Traveling to Normandy validates the hard work of our cadre, cadets, and university partners and further perpetuates the mission of Central Michigan University as a community committed to the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, discovery, and creativity," said Greening. "We provide student student-centered education and foster personal and intellectual growth to prepare students for productive careers, meaningful lives, and responsible citizenship in a global society.”

The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) headquartered at Central Michigan University also maintains satellite programs through Ferris State University, Alma College, and Northwood University. 25 cadets from CMU and FSU participated in this trip. Additional guests included one French language student and Assistant Dean/French Professor Christi Brookes to act as interpreters and provide cultural information.

Cadet Mason Damman says visiting these history rich battle sites is an invaluable experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“For years, we get to hear the stories of war heroes before us, the lessons we learned, and ultimately how they have shaped the battlefield for us in our line of work today,” said Damman. “This trip gave us the opportunity to see the front lines the best we could through their eyes. Their combat was real, the extent of their suffering is understood, and their sacrifices are heroic.”

You can view photos from their trip at

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